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Civil Rights Legend Vernon Jordan '57 to Speak Old Gold Weekend

October 1, 2001

October 1, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., the former president of the National Urban League, an adviser to Presidents Carter and Clinton, and a 1957 graduate and Trustee of DePauw University, will return to his alma mater Saturday, October 27. Jordan will speak at the Old Gold Convocation at 10:30 a.m. in Kresge Auditorium of the Performing Arts Center. Immediately following the address, Mr. Jordan will sign copies of his new autobiography, Vernon Can Read! in the lobby of the auditorium.

To be released October 16 and co authored by Annette Gordon Reed, Vernon Can Read! contains an entire chapter on Jordan's DePauw experiences, which he also touched on while accepting the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest honor, in July. Jordan told the NAACP's National Convention that DePauw Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "July 12, 2001" 879KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "July 12, 2001" 54KB] "expanded my mind and broadened my horizons."

The publisher's synopsis of Vernon Can Read! describes the story behind the book's title. "As a student in Atlanta, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's afternoon naps, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. 'Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, long time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. It is a story that encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution."

It continues, "After attending a predominantly white college in the midwest and graduating from Howard University Law School, Jordan became involved in the civil rights movement. He led the voter education project to register black voters in the South, and was president of the National Urban League, one of the great civil rights organizations of the era, where he was instrumental in integrating American businesses and providing economic and social support to the expanding black middle class. He survived a white racist's assassination attempt and later became a pillar of America's legal, corporate, and political worlds... Vernon Can Read!is a remarkable memoir of a life of courage, pride, sacrifice, style and accomplishment."

After graduating from DePauw, Vernon Jordan received his law degree from Howard University. He currently serves as a senior managing director for the New York investment firm Lazard Frères & Co. Vernon Jordan's DePauw speech is free and open to the public.

On June 9, 2007, Vernon Jordan delivered the silver anniversary address at his Class of 1957's 50th reunion. His address to DePauw's Class of 1993 is embedded below.

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